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News Release

November 29, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Dutchess County’s Enviable Aa1 Bond Rating Reaffirmed by Moody’s Investors Services


Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today that Moody’s Investors Service has reaffirmed Dutchess County government’s Aa1 bond rating.   Moody’s issued the bond rating as the County prepares to issue new bonds to fund various capital improvement projects including road and bridge improvements, energy efficiencies, building renovations and replacement vehicles.  The County will be also be refinancing prior capital improvement project bonds which will provide a net present value savings of more than $385,000 for county property taxpayers.

“Moody’s has again substantiated our sound and prudent fiscal management by reaffirming our enviable Aa1 bond rating,” said County Executive Steinhaus.    “Dutchess County government has been well managed despite the difficult economy and Moody’s recognizes our work to streamline, restructure and cut costs across nearly every area of our control, while continuing to provide essential services important to our residents.”

What does a Moody’s Aa1 bond rating mean?   Obligations rated Aa are judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.   The modifier 1 indicates that the obligation ranks in the higher end of that generic rating category. The County Executive noted, “There are only two counties statewide with higher bond ratings than Dutchess County, which places Dutchess in the very top tier of financially well managed county governments.”

In a summary of the ratings rationale, Moody’s noted several strengths that led to the Aa1 rating including:

  • Dutchess County government’s satisfactory financial position
  • Sizable tax base with above average wealth levels.  Moody’s notes the overall stability of the county’s tax base is expected to continue to be supported by the presence of IBM and numerous sizable non-profit institutions such as Vassar and St. Francis Hospital as well as Vassar and Marist College.
  • Dutchess County government’s modest debt burden of only 0.3%, low debt service level and moderate future borrowing plans.
  • Efforts made by county government to contain expenditure growth through program and staff reductions

However, County Executive Steinhaus noted Moody’s qualified its ratings for Dutchess County government with a “negative” outlook, reflecting Moody’s opinion that “the county will be challenged to maintain fund balance at current level given an expected drawdown in 2011 and the continued use of reserves to balance the budget in 2012.    Further declines outside of what is expected or the use of reserves in 2012 will put further pressure on the county’s rating.”

County Executive Steinhaus said, “Moody’s warning is important and echoes the warning I have noted to county legislators in my 2012 Executive budget message … 'additional reduction, or exposure to the remaining fund balance could put the county at risk in the 2012 fiscal year.'”

“Without a doubt, the ‘negative’ outlook from Moody’s is a reflection of the impact of the state mandates imposed on Dutchess County government.   Without the promised state mandate relief from the Governor or state legislators, we have been forced to draw down the fund balance we have worked so hard to build and protect.    As I stated in my budget message, it will be critical for the County Legislature and the next administration to hold Albany lawmakers accountable to provide the long overdue mandate relief.   Mandate relief will be essential to rebuilding fund balance to enable Dutchess County government to keep our strong bond rating and ensure we remain well positioned for the future,” concluded Steinhaus.

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County Executive

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